Just as I was losing hope that there would be any danceable new tango recordings coming out, Tango Bardo saved the day with their new album - con Roberto Minondi. Yes, with Roberto Minondi from Romantica Milonguera.
There was a release by Tango Spleen, Vamos a la Distancia, but with the exception of the track Milonga Schupi, the listener is confined to his chair, unmoved to dance. I am ready to blame COVID for dragging bands out of the dance floor and into the concert hall, and pray that they come back.
I won't dwell too much on this point - let's have a listen to Tango Bardo!
Aníbal Troilo recorded Mensaje twice, once with Raúl Berón in 1953, then again with Roberto Rufino in 1965. It's the latter that has been the source of inspiration for the album's opening track. It has the same symphonic quality even as the orchestra has shrunk considerably.
I had no idea how many interpretations of the tango Tengo miedo exist: I have none of them in my library. The version that was the point of departure for Tango Bardo was the 1970 recording by D'Arienzo and Echagüe. It's a swift, staccato affair for a swift walk on the dance floor. Interestingly, another band that is derived from Romantica Milonguera, Orquesta Villa Crespo, recorded this a few years back and it's pretty much the same arrangement.
It's another story with Tu voz, only ever recorded by Biagi and Acuña in 1944. Inasmuch as I love Biagi's original, I am very impressed by Tango Bardo's re-telling of the story. Minondi, too, seems very well suited for the task.
We are back to D'Arienzo land with Paciencia, and even as Tango Bardo does not add anything particularly new to their interpretation, it does not subtract anything importan either. I liked the swift tempo and consistent drive.
I wonder which arrangement of Sin palabras was the source of inspiration for Tango Bardo's take. I wouldn't have been Biagi's or Pugliese's, both of which I love. The phrasing takes us to the late 1950s or even 1960s. I went looking for Troilo's recording from the latter period but apparently it does not exist. Nevertheless, it does sound like something Troilo would have recorded with Rufino in the 1960s. It's a powerful lyrical narrative with an impressive dramatic arch.
Rodolfo Biagi's spirit returns for another revival of Indiferencia, complete with the "wrong" accents on the 2nd beat. While not as sharp in their staccatos, the band re-creates the song faithfully. Even the brief slow-down at the very end is there, too.
D'Arienzo's take on Yuyo brujo is remade here with an arguably better singer than Laborde was, in my ears anyway. It has the same drive and energy, and I feel Minondi is way easier on the dancer. I consider Laborde's singing to be terribly confusing as a leader. Idiot never arrived on the beat, never. Minondi, on the other hand, is there to help the ronda without losing his expressiveness.
Trenzas comes in as another mystery, as far as locating the source arrangement goes. It might be Tango Bardo's own take. I checked whether Troilo recorded it with Rufino in the 1960s, and he didn't. Same as with Mensaje, the song takes 4 minutes to play out its narrative and is full of rubatos, moving forward in an uneven way as one would expect. When it moves, it moves, however. I loved it.
As if not wanting to leave us with this heavy emotional baggage, Tango Bardo closes the album with their optimistic take on Remembranza. Roberto Minondi sung it previously on Romantica Milonguera's album Algo contigo, and delivers a similar performance here. Despite quite enjoying the darker renditions of Remembranza such as that by Pugliese and Maciel, I'll admit I have been convinced that it is quite possible to render it with predominantly happy colors.
What can I say: Tango Bardo is in my Top 10 band list, and they have more than met the expectations I have for their work. The album is very consistent, providing ample material for tandas with a high potential for success. As they have not previously recorded with Minondi, making single-orchestra tandas might prove to be a challenge, and so hopefully they keep recording together!
This won't warrant a separate review but for the fans of Romantica Milonguera, here's a new single - Como dos extraños. Or if you prefer, here's the video clip: